08 Pain Caused by, and the Punishment and Pardon of a Sinning Christian

2 Corinthians 2v5-11

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure–not to put it too severely–to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (ESV)

From this passage we see:

  1. The Pain Caused by the Sinning Christian (v5)
    a) Paul was referring to a person in the congregation who had caused pain. The principle is that if you hurt one, you hurt all, because believers are one in Christ. This pain is related to issues described in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Indications are that someone had led a rebellion against Paul – a common issue for Pastors. But, Paul had forgiven the person and, concerned that the congregation might not forgive, he urged them to forgive and comfort the offender, emphasizing a desire for unity and harmony amongst the members.

  2. Punishment of the Sinning Christian (v6)
    The punishment of the majority is sufficient enough to bring about repentance. The true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ should have 3 aspects of authenticity: the faithful proclamation of the Word of God (Prophetic); faithful administration of the Lord’s Table and Believer’s Baptism (Priestly) and loving and restorative Church discipline (Kingly). Paul calls the congregation to “be your brother’s keeper” – to faithfully love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

  3. Pardon for the Sinning Christian (v7-8)
    How do we restore the offender? There is a call to both turn (stop being hard and unforgiving) and a call to tenderness.
    a) First, there is a call to turn from harsh judgement to forgiveness which is an act of divine grace. We must carefully examine our attitudes towards those sinning and also to those who are not of the faith!
    b) Second, the congregation must comfort the sinning Christian. If we don’t, he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Paul is begging them, but ultimately it is the Holy Spirit calling for the congregation to show tenderness (see Matt. 18v21-35, Col. 3v13).

  4. The Purpose of Paul’s Sacred Counsel (v9-11)
    a) Paul wrote to test their faithfulness, to determine if they are obedient in everything.
    b) We must work at it to tenderize our fellowship in Christ. 
    c) To tell of the foe of Christians (our soul’s enemy), so that we would not be outwitted by Satan – by extending forgiveness, for we are not ignorant of his designs (also see 2 Cor. 11v14).

We must resolve as a congregation to stay together in the fragrance and the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.